A Little History of this website
This website was bought by me, Dr. Halls, after the web address became obsolete around 2006. However, if you have come to this site looking for the Berwick Swan and Wildlife Trust please click HERE. The very fine Berwick Swan and Wildlife trust previously owned this site and are still going strong, they have simply moved to http://swan-trust.org/.
This organization, with their army of volunteers, continues to do amazing work safeguarding their swan colonies and many other wildlife species of Berwick-upon-Tweed in the United Kingdom.
So, here is a little bit about the Berwick Swan and Wildlife Trust. The trust was set up in 1992 after a factory spilt chemicals into the River Tweed affecting the swans and other wildlife. The Berwick Swan and Wildlife Trust website has information on:-
- The Mute Swans
- The Famous Berwick Swans
- Useful Wildlife Tips
- How to Help the Berwick Swans and Wildlife Trust
- Latest News and Events
Some Common Myths about the Swan: True or False?
Swans mate for Life
Well, on the whole, most swans do bond for life after their elaborate courtship rituals. However, ornithologists believe that the reasons for this are not as romantic as many of us would like to believe.
The bonding for life is thought to be more for general survival and indeed, survival of the species. The adult swans will raise baby swans (cygnets) over and over again in their lifetime and they learn each time about what is successful and what is not. In addition to the need to incubate the eggs and raise their young, swans also spend a lot of time migrating and establishing their territory. Furthermore, swans in a pair are less likely to be attacked by other swans than singles. Thus, there are some very practical reasons why swans tend to bond for life.
However, sometimes even swans ‘divorce’. Nobody knows exactly why but a Polish expert, Radoslaw Włodarczyk, suggests that swans often leave their partner and seek another after nest failure or a bad breeding season. In fact, swans have a ‘divorce’ rate of around 5%. Indeed, the most faithful bird pairing, according to Noah Strycker, is the Albatross, who mate for life and may just have, “the most intense love affairs of any animal on our planet”.
Can a swan actually break your Arm?
Most people in childhood have been told to stay away from swans as they are VERY dangerous. Indeed, I was told, if a swan attacks it can break your arm (or leg) by hitting you with it’s very large and very strong wing.
Although it is possible that a swan may be the cause of an occasional broken leg or arm, Włodarczyk a keen ornithologist, claims that it is ‘unlikely’. However, swans will violently protect their nests and territories, especially in breeding season, or if they have cygnets.
Swans have been known to attack rowers, anglers and river walkers, but mainly it is a warning ‘display’ of aggression. The angry or threatened bird will rear up, hiss and flap the wings. Considering the average wing span is between 1.6 to 2.8 metres (depending on the species) this is a fairly scary sight.
Does the Queen really own all the swans in the UK?
The answer to this is indeed, ‘yes’. However, more specifically, the Queen owns, by prerogative right, all the mute swans that are unmarked in open waters in the United Kingdom.
In England, once a year, during July, a five day event occurs, known as Swan Upping on the River Thames. The Queen’s Swan marker and the Swan Uppers sail down the Thames in skiffs and traditional scarlet uniforms. Although very ceremonial, the Swan Uppers capture, ring and then release the mute swans on the River Thames.
This ceremony however, does more than mark Queen Elizabeth as ‘the Seigneur of the Swans’. During Swan Upping, the Queen’s men also medically examine, weigh and measure the mute swans. Furthermore, the Swan Uppers will record the annual growth rate each year, and examine, note and treat any injuries. Each swan is given a ring with an identification number.
The data gathered during swan upping can give conservationists important information on the general trends and health of the swan population on the River Thames.
Do swans really sing before they die?
Most of us have heard of a person or performer’s ‘swan song’ or final creative performance or work before retirement or death. However, not as many people are aware that this phrase comes from the belief that when the usually mute swan dies, it lets out one, final beautiful song.
This is actually not true in any way. The inaccurately named ‘mute’ swan is not actually mute during its lifetime. The mute swan, although not as vocal as some other types of swans, has a range of sounds including grunting and hissing and they definitely do not sing whilst dying.
by the dull world, is ill understood.